22 YouTube channels blocked over ‘security’

Updated on Apr 06, 2022 06:00 AM IST
Besides the YouTube channels, three Twitter accounts, one Facebook account, and one news website violated the provisions of IT Rules, 2021, and have been blocked in India, broadcasting minister Anurag Thakur told the media outside Parliament.
On December 21, the government said 20 YouTube channels were blocked under emergency provisions incorporated in the information technology rules last February.(AFP)
On December 21, the government said 20 YouTube channels were blocked under emergency provisions incorporated in the information technology rules last February.(AFP)
By, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

India has blocked 22 YouTube channels for spreading misinformation and threatening the country’s sovereignty, information and broadcasting minister Anurag Thakur said on Tuesday.

Besides the YouTube channels, three Twitter accounts, one Facebook account, and one news website violated the provisions of IT Rules, 2021, and have been blocked in India, Thakur told the media outside Parliament.

Since December 2021, 78 YouTube channels have been blocked under the rules.

“The total number stands at 78 today. If you look at these 22 YouTube channels which were blocked, 18 are reporting from India and 4 from Pakistan. The total views were 262 crores (2.62 billion),” Thakur told news agency ANI. “They were involved in misinformation against India, which will have an impact on the sovereignty and integrity of India, and also on the national security and India’s relation with other nations.”

These channels were spreading fake news about sensitive subjects such as Covid-19 and the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the minister said.

The blocked channels used pictures of Indian television anchors and logos of news channels on their YouTube thumbnails to appear legitimate and gain views, the ministry said in a statement. The channels had names such as ARP News, AOP News, News23Hindi, KisanTak, and Sarkari News Update.

“The Government of India remains committed to ensuring an authentic, trustworthy, and safe online news media environment, and thwart any attempts at undermining India’s sovereignty and integrity, national security, foreign relations, and public order,” the statement said.

Among the disinformation and fake news spread by the channels were that India was getting militarily involved in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, India was dropping bombs on Russia, America had declared war on India, and India had dropped a nuclear bomb on Lahore, obliterating the city.

This is the third instance of the government blocking YouTube channels and websites linked to Pakistan in recent months. In January, the Indian government ordered the blocking of 35 Pakistan-based YouTube channels and two websites for “spreading anti-India fake news in a coordinated manner over digital media”.

Before that, on December 21, the government said 20 YouTube channels were blocked under emergency provisions incorporated in the information technology rules last February.

YouTube later took down those channels.

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